Raise Strong Kids in a World that Plays it Safe.

Hello friends,  I want to take a few posts to discuss some priorities for Christian parents, for my own reminder and benefit as much as anyone else's.   Keep in mind that I'm also teaching this to myself as we go along.

This summer I was asked to teach a session at a Family Bible Camp with the topic of "Parenting kids who stand strong".   The overall  theme of the entire week was "Kingdom Rock" which also happened to be the kids VBS theme of choice in churches all around Christendom, complete with draw bridges, and styro-foam castle bricks, and flowing banners.  I figured the two themes would tie in fairly well together...minus the moat, and the strange medieval costumes.

I panicked slightly, because really...who am I to teach anything, especially being that my kids are still young.  They have not yet entered the fiery trials of adult life. We are still just planting seeds, nurturing small seedlings, and praying for roots to grow....the coming crop remains to be seen.

 Despite my hesitation I decided to do some reading, and studying.   The statistics I found were alarming regarding the droves of young adults who "leave the church" once they leave home.  It made me wonder how many were really part of the Church to begin with, and how many were just along for the ride.  Regardless, it is extremely sobering as a parent.  We cannot, as parents, continue on with status quo.  We no longer live in a "christian culture", actually we no longer even live in a Christian tolerant culture.  The battle for our kids remains the same, however the battle field has changed completely.  As parents we must take on a wartime sense of priorities, urgency, alertness, and focus. This is not a time to kick off those marching boots, in exchange for flip flops.  Church, this isn't a time for sullen retreat, it's a time for humble repentance, genuine regeneration, and bold resurgence.

Our goal as Christian parents should be to raise up strong faith filled adults, not ill-equipped, fragile or fearful ones.  Of course our attempt to do that will be imperfect, and most certainly done in weakness, but we trust that the Lord's strength will be magnified even in that.

In this series, I'm going to start with a list.  Because, well, who doesn't love a good list?  These are some tips I came up with while I studied.  In later posts I'll dig a little deeper into a few of the points.  Basically the big idea is we have to lead the way ourselves.  Please don't think for a second that I have these pegged as a parent.

This post is simply meant to encourage you, to help you set your eyes above the relentless noise, the dirty diapers, and the overwhelming chaos of parenthood, and onto a higher prize.  Eyes on the Prize.

Raise strong kids in a world that plays it safe:

 1.  Don’t hobble your children’s faith by giving them every worldly  “advantage”.  Our children should not grow up in a happy little sparkly bubble, where they perceive that the world revolves around them. Let your children struggle; allow them to experience challenges, natural consequences, and heart breaks all under an umbrella of loving guidance, invested involvement, and wise supervision. Don’t hide the reality of a broken world from them.  Don't let them grow up believing that the world, or God, owes them anything.  That undermines both the harsh reality of the world, and the undeserved grace of God. {1 Peter 1:6-7}

2.   Teach your children from a young age, by example, to love and serve others out of an overflow of how Jesus has served and loved them.  We cannot entertain our children enough, guilt our children enough, or coerce our children enough to “keep them in church” once they become young adults.   They must know what it is to actively BE the church long before they leave home.  
{2 Cor. 5:14-15}

 3.  Encourage them to step out of their comfort zone, by stepping out of yours.  By allowing them to see you step out in faith in a way that relies entirely on God's provision and mercy, they are witnesses to how good and faithful our God is.   If you haven’t gone there yourself but rather keep everything in your life carefully calculated,  what you tell your children about trusting God will be mere words.  If you call yourself Christian but live like an atheist when it comes to your priorities and perspective, that will not be a contagious faith.  Don’t settle for being a “Sunday Christian”.  Jesus isn't a good luck charm we stuff into the pocket of our Sunday suit.  Our kids are great at sniffing out hypocrisy and they will know what our treasure is.  Let them see without a doubt by your priorities, actions, and words, that your treasure is Jesus. {Rev. 3:14-18}

4.  Dig deep into the Gospel with your children.  The gospel (good news) is not merely a “Salvation message” for unbelievers…it is THE message for believers as well.  We never, ever, ever, get past our need for the roots of the gospel of God’s saving grace, our redemption, and the atoning work of the cross to be driven deeper and deeper into our hearts.  Ever. We need to be reminded regularly where our only hope is found, where our real strength comes from, and what our identity is.  The saving work of Jesus isn't merely the admission gate to get in, it is the entire pool.  Jump in.  Be changed by the Holy Spirit renewing your mind and transforming your heart.   Jesus didn't come to give us an upgraded image of God, to be your hobby,  a good teacher,  your personal fire insurance plan, merely a moral example, or a snazzy knick knack on your shelf…he came on a  rescue mission.  Jesus didn't come to make good little boys and girls better, he came to make dead people alive.  {Col. 1:3-14} {Titus 2:11-15}

5.  Give generously, and let your children join in.   The finished work of Christ on the cross, and the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in us empowers us to live in  radical generosity.  We serve a wealthy King who became poor for us, so that by His poverty we might become rich.  As we bask in Christ’s sacrificial gift for us, we find ourselves transformed into his image and freed to be radically generous.  When we believe and understand that all we have is Gods, when we know that our ultimate treasure is Jesus, we can joyfully live with open hands and outstretched arms, asking Him how we should steward His money.   We give generously because we have received generously.  To give generously first we must also have the humility to receive generously.  {2 Cor. 8:2-4} {2 Cor. 9:11-13}

 6.  Let your children see you repent.   The Christian life begins with repentance and continues in that direction.   Genuine repentance (turning from sin) and belief are the only appropriate posture toward the Lordship of Christ.  Because we know we are saved by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, we don’t have to hold onto our pride, control, insecurities, and flawless reputation….even in front of our kids.  They already know you’re a sinner, your not fooling anyone, so let them see you marvel in God’s grace.  {Mark 6:12, Isaiah 30:15, Luke 3:8, Rev. 3:1-3, Rev. 3:19}

7. Remember it is Jesus who saves our children.  It is the Holy Spirit who draws them to Christ, but we should not neglect our God given post as shepherds over our little flocks.  God’s sovereignty does not our negate human responsibility and obedience.   We are commanded to make disciples and that begins in our homes.  We are intended to be the primary influence in our children’s lives.  Keep dazzling them with the love of Jesus, keep pointing them toward a faithful God, teach them diligently, let your home be grace saturated, and lovingly lead them to the cross…and then show them, by example, how to pick up their own and follow him.   {Deut. 4:9, John 16:7-11}

 8. Let your heart be changed by the renewing of your mind. {Roman’s 2:12} {Ephesians 3: 1-6}  You can’t give to your children knowledge that you do not have.  Study the Bible, seek the authors intended meaning in the text, pray for answers while digging deep.   Theology is simply seeking to know God for who he has revealed himself to be.  When studying Gods Word, the role of the Holy Spirit is to soften our hearts to receive truth revealed in the text.  God is not honored by unfeeling, joyless intellectualism, or by unthinking, uncritical emotionalism.  Both are needed- minds that are gripped with knowledge and truth, and hearts on fire with intense love for Him and his glory  {1 Cor. 2:14, Romans 5:14, 2 Tim. 3:15-17}}

9. Rest in God’s sovereignty and grace.   As a parent that is the most freeing truth, as well as slightly terrifying.  We prefer methods, rules, and fail proof cause and effect promises, but there are no biblical promises that "good parenting" in guarantees righteous children out.  God never encourages self-reliance because that would be trusting in something other than Christ and his grace and mercy.  The way of the Lord is always by faith, faith in his goodness, mercy, and love.  Our faith is in him, not our perfect parenting.  (Thank God for that!) Rest in the knowledge that God can do the impossible in our children’s lives, no child (or adult child) is beyond his reach.   {Romans 9:14-20, Matthew 10:29-31}

10. Pray with, over and for your children.  Let them see that they can talk with you just as you talk to our loving Heavenly Father.  Let them see you bring things to the Lord, so they can also experience the joy at seeing how the Lord provides for you and them.

Until next time,
go forth mighty, shaking- in-your-boots, parent warriors.  Onward!

Soli Deo Gloria,


Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for that. Mom to 3 little ones, watching s many fall away. It is easy to be afraid of the future. My trust is in Him, He is my ONLY hope! Thank you for the encouragement.

Gigi said...

Another Gigi! I echo her. Thanks for the reminders and encouragement.